Why We Love Brazil

Beautiful bodies, Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Gisele Bundchen, Copacabana Beach, Iguazu Falls and the samba are a few reasons why we love Brazil.

Photos

India: Bollywood

India: Bollywood

The final scene of the movie Slumdog Millionaire made this Indian dance style popular in the US. But it’s just a regular day in the life of Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit-Nene. She’s seen here performing at the International Indian Film Academy Awards. 960 1280

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images  

Brazil: Samba

Brazil: Samba

If you can’t move your hips, then you might want to watch and learn how to samba from the pros. Thousands of participants dance to the rhythm of Carnival beats during the Mangueira samba school’s colorful parade at the Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro. 960 1280

PYMCA/Univeral Images Group/Getty Images  

China: Dragon Dance

China: Dragon Dance

Ring in the new year right — the Chinese way! In Beijing, Chinese artists perform a dragon dance at a local amusement park during celebrations for the Lunar New Year. 960 1280

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images  

Cuba: Salsa

Cuba: Salsa

It’s the perfect time to brush up on your salsa dancing now that Cuba is becoming a hot travel destination. 960 1280

Emily Riddell/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Russia: Ballet

Russia: Ballet

These Russian ballet dancers practice in a studio in St. Petersburg, Russia. Ballet developed as popular courtly entertainment during the Italian Renaissance and then as a world-renowned fine art in 20th-century Russia and America. 960 1280

Ken Scicluna/AWL Images/Getty Images  

Switzerland: Traditional Folk Dance

Switzerland: Traditional Folk Dance

Sometimes it’s OK to keep it traditional, as this couple does at the Ballenberg, an open-air museum in Brienz, Switzerland, that gives insight into the history of the country’s farming culture. 960 1280

Switzerland Tourism  

Argentina: Tango

Argentina: Tango

Tango is a sensual partner dance that originated in Argentina. It is now performed as part of ballroom dance competitions around the world, but this couple is keeping it local on a street in Buenos Aires’ La Boca neighborhood. 960 1280

Markus Matzel/Ullstein Bild/Getty Images  

Japanese: Kabuki

Japanese: Kabuki

Kabuki, a classical Japanese dance drama, originated in Kyoto more than 400 years ago. In this photo, villagers perform Kabuki for farmers in Hinoemata, Japan, where residents have been performing the art for 200 years. 960 1280

Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images  

Austria: Viennese Waltz

Austria: Viennese Waltz

The Viennese waltz was actually the first form of the waltz, a smooth ballroom and folk dance. It was originally the peasants’ dance but eventually gained acceptance in European high society. In this photo, young couples waltz at the traditional Opera Ball in Vienna. 960 1280

Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images  

Paraguay: Traditional Dance

Paraguay: Traditional Dance

Dance is another way to explore and gain some insight into the indigenous customs and cultures of a destination. Here, Maka natives dance during festivities marking American Indigenous People Day in Mariano Roque Alonso, a city 12 miles north of Asuncion, Paraguay. 960 1280

Norberto Durate/AFP/Getty Images  

United States: Contemporary Dance

United States: Contemporary Dance

Contemporary dance is often thought to be related to ballet and other concert dance styles, but it actually borrows from classical, modern and jazz dance. This dance form is characterized by unpredictable changes in rhythm, speed and direction. 960 1280

Vasilina Popova/Stone/Getty Images  

Middle East: Belly Dance

Middle East: Belly Dance

The term “belly dance” comes from the French phrase dance du ventre, which translates as “dance of the stomach,” but the moves themselves arose from various dancing styles performed in the Middle East and North Africa. 960 1280

Karen Liagan/Moment/Getty Images  

New York City: Broadway

New York City: Broadway

It’s all about jazz hands in New York, where Broadway musicals require performers to learn various dance styles. And even the world-renowned Rockettes have to practice to make sure their precise choreography is executed correctly for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. 960 1280

Taylor Hill/Film Magic/Getty Images  

Amsterdam: Michael Jackson

Amsterdam: Michael Jackson

Today, many performers enjoy emulating their favorite music icons, such as Michael Jackson. This King of Pop impersonator dances to Thriller in Amsterdam’s Museumpark as part of a flash mob. 960 1280

Reuters  

Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Rainforest

Explore the Amazon rainforest, or Amazonia, and its indigenous plant life, including the water plant Victoria regia (pictured). This dense, lush forest covers more than 2 million square miles of South America’s Amazon basin. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, followed by Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. The jungle represents more than half of the planet’s remaining rainforest, making it the largest and most diverse rainforest in the world. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Amazon River

Amazon River

Plan a mind-blowing excursion down the 4,000-mile-long Amazon River -- the largest river in South America, and the largest drainage system in the world. Although the length of this river is equivalent to the distance from NYC to Rome, there is much debate as to whether the Amazon is longer than the Nile River in Egypt. The Amazon River’s source comes high within the Andes Mountains, near the Pacific Ocean, and its mouth is in the Atlantic Ocean on the northeastern coast of Brazil. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Negro River

Negro River

Adventurous travelers can take a cruise along the Negro River from Manaus, Brazil, to experience the Amazon Rainforest and to explore the January Ecological Park. Some cruise lines offer unique excursions, including a hike through the jungle, alligator spotting, fishing, tree climbing, snorkeling, parasailing and educational excursions to learn more about the indigenous people that live along the river. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Ariau Amazon Towers

Ariau Amazon Towers

Stay at the Ariau Amazon Towers, a hotel built high in the treetops with canopy walkways 70 feet in the air. During your stay, enjoy the fauna and wildlife like the friendly monkeys, macaws, sloths and parrots. This exclusive hotel made Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the “25 Extraordinary Places Worth That Extra Mile.” We agree. For the perfect honeymoon hideaway, we recommend the honeymoon suite, built 110 feet up a mahogany tree. 960 1280

Jorge Andrade, flickr  

IBEROSTAR Grand Amazon

IBEROSTAR Grand Amazon

If a treetop hotel isn’t your thing, try the IBEROSTAR Grand Amazon. Guests can check into this floating luxury hotel -- featuring 73 cabins, each with private balcony -- for a 3-night stay along the Solimões River that includes a visit to a local village, bird-watching around the Igarapés and piranha fishing. For the 4-night stay, guests tour the Negro River and take a motorboat safari to the Anavilhanas Islands. Make the most out of your trip and combine the 2 options for a 7-night stay. 960 1280

Jorge Andrade, flickr  

Indigenous Nations Games

Indigenous Nations Games

While you are visiting the Amazon, you may be lucky enough to immerse yourself in a unique cultural event like the Indigenous Nations Games of Para in Altamira. Indigenous people from 38 ethnic groups participate in the Games in which athletes compete in disciplines like spear throwing, canoeing and swimming. In the photo, a member of Brazil's Kayapo tribe prepares to compete in the bow and arrow competition. 960 1280

Reuters  

Kayaking in the Amazon

Kayaking in the Amazon

Take an Amazon kayaking tour on the Urubu and Jatapu rivers. Manaus is surrounded by the Amazon Negro rivers, but some companies do not offer kayaking tours on these rivers because they are miles wide and can be dangerous for kayakers during rainy and stormy weather. 960 1280

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Boi-Bumba Folkloric Festival

Boi-Bumba Folkloric Festival

Plan a fun trip to witness the Festival do Boi-Bumba or the Parintins Folklore Festival in June. This festival is the 2nd largest annual festival in Brazil -- only Rio’s Carnival draws more participants. Held in Parintins, Amazonas, this 3-day festival celebrates a local legend about a resurrected ox, and 2 teams -- Garantido and Caprichoso -- must compete to retell the story in 2.5 hours. The teams try to outdo one another using flamboyant dances, singing and parade floats in the Bumbodromo -- a stage that holds about 35,000 spectators. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Uakari Mamirauá Reserve Lodge

Uakari Mamirauá Reserve Lodge

Located in Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve, the Uacari Floating Lodge is a rustic, eco-tourism getaway to observe the Amazon’s wildlife. Recognized by UNESCO as part of the Natural Heritage of Humanity, this floating lodge has 5 bungalows with 2 rooms, 2 bathrooms and a porch with a view of the river and forest. The central floating area has a natural swimming pool, kitchen, restaurant, bar, video room and library. What makes this lodge unique is that it generates income for the reserve’s 8 local communities and preserves the natural community. 960 1280

Gabriel Britto, flickr  

Zip Lining in the Amazon

Zip Lining in the Amazon

Get an amazing view of Brazil and the Amazon’s canyons, rivers, waterfalls and more, by taking canopy tour. Rafting, hiking, cycling, snorkeling and surfing are few examples of how you can keep your adrenaline pumping when visiting the area. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Ver-o-Peso Market

Ver-o-Peso Market

Go shopping at the Ver-o-peso Market in Belem, Brazil. Locals and tourists visit this market to pick up fresh fish, handcrafts, natural essence perfumes, and native vegetables and fruits. Clock Tower Square, Solar da Beira, Feliz Lusitania and the Açaí Fair are a few places to visit and things to do when visiting this popular market. 960 1280

M.Maselli, flickr   

Amazonas Theatre

Amazonas Theatre

For travelers looking for an alternative to “roughing it” in the Amazon -- visit the Amazonas Theater in Manaus. This theater is home to the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra, which regularly rehearses and performs here. Music concerts and other popular performances are held here. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Amazonas Opera Festival

Amazonas Opera Festival

From March until May, the Amazonas Theater also hosts an annual Amazonas Opera Festival. The Amazonas Philharmonic is the official orchestra of the Festival. This photo shows a scene from the 2008 world premiere performance of the opera Ca Ira, composed by former Pink Floyd vocalist Roger Waters and performed by an all-Brazilian cast. 960 1280

Reuters  

Visit an Artisanal Cachaça Distillery

Visit an Artisanal Cachaça Distillery

The ingredient that gives a caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink, its kick, is cachaca, and you can get a closer look at how the alcoholic beverage is made at Flor do Vale a small distillery nestled in a bucolic valley just outside Canela in Rio Grande do Sul. From sugar cane milling to fermentation, explore the distillation process, then sample the final product in tastings or in the restaurant where cachaça makes its way into some of the dishes. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Go for Italian Cuisine

Go for Italian Cuisine

The people of Rio Grande do Sul are proud of their Italian heritage and there are plenty of places to indulge in Italy’s greatest export, its food. At Cantina di Capo in Gramado, order family style and enjoy the cozy, family-friendly feel of the place. The chef is likely to stop by your table to say hello. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Travel the Romantic Route

Travel the Romantic Route

The collection of highways between Porto Alegre and the scenic towns of Gramado and Canela is called the Romantic Route because of the lush landscapes that unfurl along the way and the bountiful blue hydrangea bushes decorating the 2-lane thoroughfares. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Tap Into Your Adventureous Side

Tap Into Your Adventureous Side

Rio Grande do Sul’s highland, known as the Serra Gaúcha, is home to vast national parks featuring craggy canyons, tree-covered mountains and surprising waterfalls. Cambará do Sul is a great starting point for adventure with off-road tours and treks. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Eat Like an Early Italian Settler

Eat Like an Early Italian Settler

Start your meal at Galeteria O Casarão in Cambará do Sul with a shot of cachaça, because what meal doesn’t taste great with cachaça? The rustic eatery serves early Italian immigrant staples from the region like grilled chicken, trout and fried polenta cakes topped with grilled mozzarella. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

See Cambara do Sul by 4x4

See Cambara do Sul by 4x4

The best way to take in the parks and canyons of Cambará do Sul is by 4x4 and with a guide. The roads turn dusty and rugged on the way to the region’s stunning natural landmarks where there is little infrastructure, especially at Parque Nacional da Serra Geral. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Visit Parque Nacional da Serra Geral

Visit Parque Nacional da Serra Geral

After a jostling ride past flat pastures punctuated by the occasional clump of cows and undulating mountains in the distance, stop to explore unkempt grassy trails that lead right to the precipice of one of Brazil’s most impressive canyons, Fortaleza. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Peer into Fortaleza Canyon

Peer into Fortaleza Canyon

It’s surprising how verdant Fortaleza Canyon is, vastly different from typical rocky, earth-gouged canyons. You can sit right at its edge and marvel at its nearly 3,000-foot depths or ascend its highest point at nearby Monte Negro Peak for more panoramic views. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Admire the Native Trees

Admire the Native Trees

Nothing could look any different from a Christmas pine tree than this region’s araucaria tree, but they are both in the pine tree family. The araucaria’s treetops spread out like an ornamental fan with spindly fringe. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Sleep in a Rustic Pousada

Sleep in a Rustic Pousada

A pousada is Brazil’s answer to the bed-and-breakfast and they line Romantic Route as you might expect. But the Parador Casa da Montanha is unique in its mix of roughing it and cozy hospitality. Sleep in on a well-cushioned and quilted bed in a thermal tent (minus shower) with unparalleled views of the Serra Gaúcha. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Experience the Spirit of Gramado

Experience the Spirit of Gramado

São Pedro Church sits at the epicenter of Gramado at the intersection of Avenida Borges Medeiros and Avenida das Hortênsias. During the holidays, Gramado’s busiest season, tourists stop in to say a prayer and see its Nativity scene. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Stroll Along Avenida Borges Medeiros in Gramado

Stroll Along Avenida Borges Medeiros in Gramado

Gramado is the third most popular destination in Brazil, an attraction for Brazilians looking to experience cooler temperatures and sip Gramado’s famous hot chocolate. At Christmas, Avenida Borges Medeiros is a glow with holiday lights and displays. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Try the Fondue

Try the Fondue

Brazilians travel to Gramado for the fondue as much as the hot chocolate. Restaurants like St. Hubertus serve bubbling pots of cheese with bread and potatoes for dipping, along with slivers of meat for table grilling and dunking in a selection of sauces. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Stay in the Heart of Gramado

Stay in the Heart of Gramado

After a day of nearby shopping and sightseeing, a doorman welcomes you back to Hotel Serra Azul, where you can enjoy the roaring fire in the fireplace room or simply retire to your spacious apartment-sized suite with balcony in this traditional, yet cozy hotel. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Go to Café Colonial

Go to Café Colonial

Eating is a big part of the experience of visiting Gramado and its sister city, Canela, and there is no better place to eat big than at Bela Vista Café Colonial, where plate after plate of grilled meats, fried cheeses, polenta and desserts are deposited at your table until you say, “uncle.” 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

See a Roadside Attraction Operated by Steam

See a Roadside Attraction Operated by Steam

Mundo a Vapor, the World of Steam, in Canela, replicates a still-steaming 1895 train wreck in Montparnasse, France, at its entrance, and powers windmills, clocks and a paper-making machine by steam inside. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Snap a Photo of Stone Cathedral

Snap a Photo of Stone Cathedral

This iconic landmark in Canela is pretty picturesque from all angles and mimics the Gothic style of cathedrals in Europe. After taking a photo outside Stone Cathedral step inside to take a photo with a wax figure of Pope Francis. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Walk Alongside a Waterfall

Walk Alongside a Waterfall

The frothy waterfall at Parque Estadual do Caracol is another popular natural landmark in Rio Grande do Sul. Take in the powerful cascade from an observation deck, 88-foot-tall observatory or follow the 800 steps down to its base for a closer look. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Eat Churrasco

Eat Churrasco

Eating grilled meat, known as churrasco and served at churrascurrias, is a local pastime in Rio Grande do Sul, so why not join in? The Garfo & Bombacha Churrascurria provides a festive atmosphere for consuming must-try meats: Picanha, a beef cut from the top of the cow’s backside, and coracao de galinha, chicken heart. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Explore German Immigrant Life

Explore German Immigrant Life

The people of Gramado and Canela are as proud of their German ancestry as their Italian ancestry and it is on display at Castelinho Caracol, the 1913 home of the Franzen family, featuring period furniture, clothes and a kitchen serving homemade apple strudel. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Visit a Winery

Visit a Winery

Besides cuisine, Italian immigrants brought their love of wine to Brazil and it is growing on the vine in Gramado and Canela. A descendant of an Italian winemaker carries on the tradition at Ravanello in Gramado, while an Italian family has taken over Jolimont, a winery started by a French family in Canela. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Marvel at Miniatures

Marvel at Miniatures

Mini Mundo in Gramado is a major attraction for kids and adults alike in Brazil. In this mini-world, buildings like the Neuschwanstein Castle in Austria, the model for the castle in Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty,” are 24 times smaller than in real life. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

See Traditional Folk Dances

See Traditional Folk Dances

A good gaucho churrasco always ends in music and dance. Skirt spinning and fire-wielding performances are guaranteed to delight after a belt-busting meal at Garfo & Bombacha Churrascaria in Canela. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

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